I have now completed the six hand towels and while they aren’t without their treadling faults, I’m pretty happy.
They were dented at 2-2 in a 10 dpi reed and the sett was 20 epi. The 6/2 cotton was sourced from Lunatic Fringe Yarns. Now they’ve been washed and pressed, the slightly funny selvages have come good and I’m happy that I made what I planned to and that my calculations were all OK. I was able to play with a number of twill patterns and that was great fun, as well as being part of the original project plan.
I did try a different, thicker weft yarn in plain weave with the small amount of warp left over on my Dorset loom after I completed the towels. I sampled using a pale yellow cotton weft yarn that’s a little thicker than 8/4 cotton. I can’t say too much more about that yarn as it was part of a yarn de-stash I purchased from a former loom owner who had a clean up over the holidays.
After washing the plain weave sample it’s looking like a winning combination for some future tea towels (dish towels) as the cloth is very stable, looks attractive and will have good absorbency.
True to form, I have the next project in mind already but putting that warp on the loom will have to wait until after Weaving Summer School at the Guild.
This twill exploration project is for hand towels that measure 10 1/2 inches wide in the reed. I am using 6/2 cotton and a sett of 20dpi.
The plan is to make a set of six towels and use different treadlings and combinations of the two colours.
I had a few warp tension issues and made a very serious threading error. The books tell you how to fix one wrong warp thread. They’re not so helpful when you have a block of 12 threads that are all wrong. My solution (as I had already started weaving) was to chop the whole lot off, fix the error and then tie the warp on again.
The first towel was 2/2 twill. The next will be broken twill. At the moment I don’t quite have an even weave so once again I find myself praying that the miracle of wet finishing will once again be transformative. This weaving business is hard.
What defines a novelty yarn? I’m going with:
new to me and having an interesting composition
Here is a photo of a scarf I recently completed using Bendigo 3 ply as warp at 8 dpi and Tirchonaill as weft. The Tirchonaill is pure wool and came in a 100g ball. To me, it meets the definition of being a novelty yarn, and a lovely one. Exactly half the ball of Tirchonaill got consumed for this project, meaning I will be able to make another scarf. I’m happy about that as I love the green colour.
I picked the Tirchonaill up at a guild member’s stash sale. I didn’t sample but I did have a plan in mind. I wove an open structure in plain weave, intending to have a soft drapey fabric at the end of the process. That worked. The selvages looked a bit loopy on the loom but came good after the finishing step.
The contrasting ends are Bendigo 3 ply, doubled. These were a bit of a concern at the hemming stage as this part of the weave didn’t pull together as much as the green during the wet-finishing stage. A bit of steam-pressing evened out the width sufficiently that I could hem the fabric without sacrificing the splash of colour contrast.
My vacation is long since over but I want share a few pictures from Mission San Miguel Arcangel, located in San Luis Obispo county in California. Just off the highway, this mission is in an agriculturally rich area. There must also be an army base nearby, based on uniformed personnel we saw eating at nearby Leo’s Cafe.
The loom below was part of a display of how the mission operated. Sadly it’s not in a usable state.
After completing the linen and lace course with Kay Faulkner I felt confident and eager to get started on a project I had put on the Dorset loom over the Christmas break, an Atwater Bronson table runner in 3/2 cotton.
Working in the coarser 3/2 cotton was a joy because it was easy to spot and correct mistakes. It was also good to be working with a coloured yarn. The finer white linen we used during the course added another little hurdle for a beginner such as myself as errors were tricky to spot. Weaving in my own space, at my own pace further helped to reduce the error rate.
My own design variant
I made two runners, one following faithfully the project instructions in Pattie Graver’s Next Steps in Weaving and the other to my own design.
The projects in the Next Steps book are particularly well described and tell you everything you need to know, such as sett, width in the reed etc in a way where you can find the essential information quickly, without having waste energy scanning the text. I do recommend the book for anyone beginning their weaving journey, as I am.
This runner was done by the book
I spent last week in the greater Brisbane area attending a weaving workshop taught by Kay Faulkner, who is both an expert weaver and an expert teacher.
Over five days our group of four students learned the theory and practice of huck, spot Bronson, Bronson and Swedish lace using beautiful 18/2 Swedish linen.
Kay had warped the looms for us in advance and we rotated between them to make our class samples.
I enjoyed having the opportunity to compare an eight shaft jack loom and an eight shaft Glimåkra countermarche loom. The pressure was on though, as we had five days to make our samples and almost all of the information was new to me. Kay provided correction and guidance on technique. Apparently there is no need for a temple or stretcher when your shuttle technique is correct. All I can say is that my selvages improved over the five days.
Sadly for me every sample I completed had at least one mistake in it, the worst sample being the first I attempted and the one I named The Spot Bronson of Shame. That sample was the first on my steep learning curve and I came away from the course a more informed weaver with a thirst for more learning and more time at the loom.
I would recommend Kay’s workshops to anyone wanting to intensively focus on developing their skills, especially if you have some weaving experience and your goal is technical mastery.
The first towel
My first attempt at rosepath
didn’t yield the results I was expecting. The only thing to do was try again, this time with a series of four tea towels (dish towels) in mind.
I am using 8/4 carpet warp cotton for the warp and weft. The borders are 8/2 cotton doubled. I chose to use 8/4 carpet warp after reading Tom Knisely’s baby blanket project description in Handwoven Magazine (Nov/Dec 2016) where he describes it as a yarn that is cost effective and one that softens with use and washing. I used the 16 epi twill sett that is in the project notes and warped my loom using Osma Tod’s ‘authentic way of weaving rosepath’ draft, detailed in her wonderful book The Joy of Hand Weaving. Her drafts are written for a sinking shed loom and I was glad I noticed that before I started weaving on my jack loom.
Effective but Ugly Pirn Winder
This project had brought different mistakes, new learnings and another first. I am using a boat shuttle for the first time, with paper pirns, wound using Tinkerer’s battery-operated drill. It’s an ugly solution but it seems to be effective. I bought a piece of 3mm brass rod to use as a spindle and am attaching the pirns to the spindle using a small piece of masking tape (painter’s tape.) I’m sure the purists will disapprove but it will do for now. One day I might have a fancy bobbin winder.
The weaving width is 18 inches in the reed and I am weaving each towel to a length of 30 inches under tension. The goal is that each towel will measure 17 by 28 inches after wet finishing and hemming but as I’m still weaving towel #3, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
By the way, the border element in the first towel pictured above has a mistake (one of many) that is visible if you zoom in on the photo. The second towel has no mistakes that I know of at this stage and the third seems to be coming along nicely.